As someone who plays MLB 22 The Show on a daily basis (I know…it’s a problem) I constantly think about how prospects will develop. On that same note, I also think about how those prospects will affect roster decisions and line ups for teams. In this post we will examine position by position the outlook for the 2023 Brewers season.
This year we saw the duo of Omar Narvaez and Victor Caratini take care of the Brewers pitching staff. Going into the 2023 season Omar Narvaez is set to become a free agent. This year he earned out $5 million. Will the Brewers attempt to re-sign him? The 2023 free agent catching class is headlined by Willson Contreras who made $9.6 million in 2022 and is set for a raise next season. There is no clear match for match substitution for Omar when comparing salary. I think they end up keeping him on a similar deal as this year. He knows the pitching staff very well and barring injury, performed consistently for the Brew Crew this year.
Victor Caratini is set for arbitration going into 2023. This year he earned a $2 million salary and based on his performance I could see him getting a bump in salary for next season. This is quite possibly the easiest roster decision for the Brewers. A consistent catcher that knows the pitching staff, doesn’t take the biggest cap hit, and can hit the ball with consistency. I think the Brewers pay him what he deserves this year and keep him on the rotation.
Last but not least, Mario Feliciano. To keep it short…they keep him on next year while continuing to develop and eventually take some days off of Omar and Victor.
Catcher(s) for 2023 - Omar Narvaez & Victor Caratini
First base -
Let me start by saying that if you have watched the Brewers then you know Rowdy will start at 1st next year again. 2 more years of arbitration and being one of the top home run hitters on the roster will easily lock you in for another year. He will merit a salary increase but one that will not hurt as he has proven time and time again to be clutch in moments you need a big lefty bat.
In terms of rotation Keston Hiura is the right answer to a lefty pitcher. While I believe he continues taking that platoon role, I don’t think discussing him in the first base role is a fitting conversation to have.
I think this is a spot where Milwaukee looks to sign a free agent or potentially try out someone within the system. The 2023 free agency has a lot of big names at 1st base but all of these command big money. I don’t think there is an obvious platoon in free agency that would fit the Brewers need while being subtle on the cap hit. I think 2023 is the year the Brew Crew turns to Zavier Warren as Rowdy’s back up. Standing at 6’1 he is a switch hitter and is at a point in his young career when he does need a few seasons to get up to that major league level. He is a top 20 prospect within the Brewers system and it would do him good to get experience with the club.
First Base - Rowdy Tellez & Zavier Warren
Second Base -
At second base the Brewers have to make a tough decision. Do they exercise the third year team option on his contract? If they do, they are committing $10 million at second base for Kolten. He is currently a .255 hitter with 8 home runs and 31 RBI. On the defensive side of the ball he is an all star. The question becomes, do you pay a 15 home run hitter with stellar defense $10 million when you have Keston Hiura in arbitration and Brice Turang in the minors? I think the answer for the Brewers is no. It absolutely breaks my heart to write that, I love the energy Kolton brings to the team and I believe if he was earning less he would easily be a yes for the third year. I think the second base position is one that has depth and very team friendly cap depth at that. For this reason I think the first Brewer that doesn’t make it to 2023 is Kolton Wong. The positive here is that Brice will finally get some major league seasoning and the Brewer fans will see what this top 5 Brewer’s prospect brings to the table.
Second Base - Keston Hiura & Brice Turang.
Short Stop -
Willy Adames, that is all.
No but seriously, the energy he brought to the Brewers is breathtaking. Sure, he might not hit for average but that is easily overshadowed by the other aspects he brings to the table for the Brew Crew. He is the Brewers energy hitting home runs and throwing 90 mph balls across the diamond. At age 27 he still has 2 more years of arbitration and I think the Brewers would be short sighted not to pay the man what he deserves. This year making $4.6 million, next year should see him taking a pay bump. But with the potential savings from deferring Kolton’s deal, this should be something the Brewers should be happy with.
This is a position that Luis Urias can play if and when Willy is not in the line up. As it is with most of the infield, Counsell loves to rotate. I think the shortstop position will be lined up with Willy and Wicho for the 2023 season.
Short Stop - Willy Adames & Luis Urias
Third Base -
Wicho…that is all again. No but seriously, Willy and Luis on the third base side have been dynamic. The Brewers would be silly to let either of them go. Luis is pre arb and has 3 years of arbitration through 2025. He will command a slightly higher salary next year but it is deserved as he has become pretty dependable at third base. He has made some mistakes but he still is still 25 and has a few years to pull it all together.
The question becomes who backs him up. This is where I believe the answer is Michael Brosseau. 3 more years of arbitration and a solid platoon player, I think he is a reliable answer for 2nd and 3rd base. He is a solid hitter at the plate and I see no reason why the Brewers would let him go next year.
Third Base - Luis Urias & Michael Brosseau
This is where I believe the Brewers will change the most. Let us begin with the simple cases. Andrew Mccutchen has been very solid at the plate and on defense. He is coming up for free agency in 2023. This year he is hitting .253 with 11 home runs and 50 RBI. He is dependable and provides a very solid spark to the team. That being said, the farm system is one that is overflowing with outfield prospects that are at the AAA level and pushing for major league time. I think Cutch ends up being a victim of this overflow. While I hope he resigns and stays on the team, it would have to come with a salary cut and reduced time. I remain optimistic he stays but at age 35 it might be a tough sell for the front office to resign him for anything longer term or larger salary.
Hunter Renfroe has arbitration for next year. Hitting .246 with 19 home runs and 44 RBI Hunter has played a big part of this team and I believe he will be brought back for next season. Tyrone Taylor is another player that has performed very consistently. Hitting .225 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI is promising. Having 3 more years of arbitration is a selling point for this front office. I think Hunter and Tyrone are two outfield players that stay for the 2023 year. Yelich is a simple one, long contract, no move clause, performing okay. Yelich is staying put in Milwaukee for a long time.
Now we get to the players that the farm system will provide. The trio of Sal Frelick, Joey Wiemer, and Garrett Mitchell will be added to the rotation next year. Whenever Tyrone or Hunter need a day off these are the players that will take that spot. The best hitter out of the three is Frelick currently hitting .395 at AAA he has proven in a short time that he can hit. Not far behind is Mitchell, hitting .324 at AAA he is one good game away from catching up to Frelick. Joey Wiemer has been taking a bit longer but with the rest of the year and with spring training, I believe he will eventually make the cut for the major league team.
It will be tough to put together just three that will play so I will put down 5 as a rotation. I believe the everyday players will be Hunter Renfroe and Tyrone Taylor. The more consistent new face will be Sal Frelick. Weimer and Mitchell will platoon.
Outfield - Tyrone Taylor, Hunter Renfroe, Sal Frelick, Christian Yelich, Joey Weimer, and Garrett Mitchell.
Predicted Lineup for 2023
Christian Yelich - L - (Designated Hitter)
Keston Huira - R- (Second Base)
Willy Adames - R- (Short Stop)
Rowdy Tellez - L - (First Base)
Hunter Renfroe - R - (Right Field)
Sal Frelick - L - (Left Field)
Tyrone Taylor - R - (Center Field)
Luis Urias - R - (Third Base)
Omar Narvaez - L - (Catcher)
Zavier Warren - S - First Base
Michael Brosseau - Right - Infield
Victor Caratini - S - Catcher
Brice Turang - L - Infield
Garrett Mitchell/Joey Weimer - Outfield